INTRODUCING CHARLES H. MORSE
CITRUSLAND SERIES: 12 CENTRAL FLORIDIANS
PART TWO: TIPPING THE SCALES OF CHARLES H. MORSE
Three of WINTER PARK, Florida’s many historic streets named for legendary Central Floridians include; FAIRBANKS Avenue, MORSE Boulevard, and KNOWLES Avenue. Each roadway honors men who played an important role during the earliest days of the Town of Winter Park.
30 miles west of Winter Park, due south of Lake Apopka, is fascinating Lake HANCOCK. This secluded body of water shares its name with an American Patriot and Signer of the Declaration of Independence. A remote rural area that only recently came into its own as a residential community, the Lake Hancock region has a fascinating past. America’s Paradise Planners at one time envisioned two railroads here, running north to south on each side of Lake Hancock, with the destination of each being Kissimmee.
In the early 1880’s, Hamilton DISSTON of Philadelphia had purchased millions of acres of raw land from the State of Florida, acreage that today accounts for much of Osceola County. In exchange, Florida became debt free, while the race to expand America’s Paradise southward to Kissimmee began.
In 1884, thousands of acres surrounding Lake Hancock, land extending west into what was then Sumter County (present day Lake County), were purchased in unison by various northern investors. One of the largest of land buyers were three partners identified as, “Charles H. MORSE, Trustee for himself and FranklinFAIRBANKS of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and F. B. KNOWLES of Worcester, Massachusetts.
The MORSE name has strong ties to Central Florida. George W. MORSE was a partner in a Massachusetts consortium that organized Altamonte Land, Hotel & Navigation Co. Altamonte Springs exists today because of that partnership. Charles Hosmer MORSE, “the Trustee” was well-known to early Winter Park, whereas cohorts of deceased Charles Henry MORSE, of Washington, DC, had ties to Central Florida’s first railroad builder, but these cohorts also joined in with other land investors who were buying up West Orange County in 1884.
“Charles Hosmer MORSE,” wrote historian William F. Blackman in 1927, “Winter Park’s most distinguished citizen, was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Mr. Morse became associated with E & T Fairbanks & Compnay, of St. Johnsbury, famous manufactures of scales, at the age of 17, and in 1858 was sent to Chicago to assist in establishing the firm of Fairbanks & Greenleaf in that city.”
The name MORSE eventually became a part of the company’s name as well, and in 1881, Charles Hosmer Morse and friend Franklin FAIRBANKS, wrote Blackman, “each purchased a lot on Interlachen Avenue on Lake Osceola” in Winter Park.
Out in West Orange County meanwhile, two of the many investors who were buying up land in the vicinity of Lake Hancock had ties to yet another Charles H. MORSE, our next Blog’s subject, coming Friday, March 20, 2015. Central Florida’s story, as CitrusLAND so often exclaims, is America’s Amazing History! 12 Central Floridians Series continues next week with: ‘Pension Clerk Charles H. Morse’.
Author’s Note: Pension Clerks Charles H. Morse, Frances E. Hewlett, Eugene P. Mallory are featured in the Central Florida History / Mystery Novel: THE RUTLAND MULE MATTER.